Using glass tanks to keep Bearded dragons
Glass tanks are popularly used as enclosures for pet Bearded dragons. They are easy to obtain, relative easy to set up and makes for great vivariums.
Popular enclosures used to house Bearded dragons include cabinets and glass tanks – each with their own set of pros and cons. Glass tanks, mainly purposed for aquariums, can be transferred into beautiful, themed Bearded dragon vivariums. Also see Bearded dragon aquariums for more information. The correct size glass tank can house one or a couple of Bearded dragons and, with a little imagination, can be transferred into a little artificial desert environment.
Glass tank sizes
Depending on your area, glass tanks will either be available commercially or as custom made ones. Commercial glass tanks will come in various sizes. A 40 gal / 150 ℓ / (91 x 46 x 43) cm / (36 x 18 x 17) ” glass tank, should be large enough for a single adult Bearded dragon and a 55 gal / 200 ℓ / (122 x 33 x 53) cm / (48 x 13 x 21) ” tank should be adequate for an adult pair. The floor space should increase by at least 25% for every Bearded dragon added after that.
Glass tank placement
Glass tanks are heavy and fragile. The first thing to do is to decide where the tank will stand. Usually a well lit area with a strong table/cabinet to support the tank will do well. Don’t forget a plug point for the electrical equipment. The bottom of a glass tanks can be protected by using styrofoam. The floor space of a glass tank should preferably not be larger than the area it rests upon.
Heating and lighting
Being desert animals, Bearded dragons need proper heating and lighting equipment to create an optimal environment. Fortunately, overhead heating and lighting is recommended for Bearded dragons. Unlike with cabinets, mounting holes cannot be drilled into glass, which makes mounting these a little trickier. Another limitation of glass tanks are their height, which often does not allow the required 30 cm / 12″ distance between the ultraviolet lighting and the main basking area of the enclosure. Also see creating a basking area for Bearded dragons for more information.
To overcome most of the heating and lighting limitations, a lid with a mess cover and electrical lamps are used. Apart from allowing the movement air (see ventilation below), meshed lids are perfect for supporting lamp structures on top of them. Heat lamps are strategically placed on one side of the tank (usually on the side of the basking area), with the ultraviolet lamp close to it. Make sure that the mesh is firm enough to carry the weight of the lamps and that the heat emitted cannot, for example, melt the mesh.
The basking area can be raised by creating a ramp or platform, or by using tall or stacked rocks.
Similar to heating and lighting limitations, gass tank users are often confronted with creating proper ventilation. Ventilation openings, popularly installed as grills on the side of Bearded dragon enclosures, allow for the escape of hot/used air and give way for fresh/cooler air. This is where a proper mesh lid comes in once again.
Substrate and furniture
Unlike cabinets, tanks have floors that are made from glass. Apart from not being able to drill holes in, glass can easily crack when heavy objects (e.g. basking rocks) are placed or dropped onto it. The same goes for unstable furniture and falls over.
To make the glass floor a little less fragile, a deep, bulky substrate can be used. Newspaper is often used to separate the glass and substrate layer. Deep layered substrates will act as some degree of shock absorber and can be used to hide cables in.
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